Colposcopy

Colposcopy is a safe procedure that carries very few risks. Rarely, complications from biopsies taken during colposcopy can occur, including:

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Infection
  • Pelvic pain

When to call your doctor:

Signs and symptoms that may indicate complications include:

  • Bleeding that is heavier than what you typically experience during your period
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Severe abdominal pain

Call your doctor if you experience any of these signs and symptoms after your colposcopy.

How you prepare:

As a part of your preparation, we recommend that you begin to understand these procedures. Find out more information here.

The doctor may also recommend that you:

  • Avoid scheduling your colposcopy during your period
  • Don't have vaginal intercourse the day or two before your colposcopy
  • Don't use tampons the day or two before your colposcopy
  • Don't use vaginal medications for the two days before your colposcopy
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), before going to your colposcopy appointment

 

Coping with anxiety before your colposcopy:

You may experience anxiety as you wait for your colposcopy exam. Anxiety can make you feel generally uncomfortable. You may find it hard to concentrate, and you may have difficulty sleeping.

If you are very anxious about your colposcopy, you may experience more pain during the procedure than people who find ways to control and manage their anxiety.

Accept that you'll feel some anxiety as you wait for your appointment, and find ways to cope. For instance:

  • Ask your doctor for brochures or pamphlets about colposcopy and what you can expect.
  • Write down any questions or concerns you have about the procedure, and ask your doctor to review them with you before your colposcopy begins.
  • Find activities that help you relax, such as exercise, meditation, and being with friends and family.
  • Ask your doctor if it's OK if you listen to music quietly during the exam.

 

What you can expect

During the colposcopy:

Colposcopy is usually done in a doctor's office, and the procedure typically takes 10 to 20 minutes. You'll lie on your back on a table with your feet in support, just as during a pelvic exam or Pap test.

The doctor places a metal speculum in your vagina. The speculum holds open the walls of your vagina so that your doctor can see your cervix.

Your doctor positions the special magnifying instrument, called a colposcope, a few inches away from your vulva. Your doctor then shines a bright light into your vagina and looks through the lens of the colposcope, as if using binoculars.

Your cervix and vagina are swabbed with cotton to clear away any mucus. Your doctor may apply a solution of vinegar or another type of solution to the area. This may cause a burning or tingling sensation. The solution helps highlight any areas of suspicious cells.

 

During the biopsy:

If your doctor finds a suspicious area, a small sample of tissue may be collected for laboratory testing. To collect the tissue, your doctor uses a sharp biopsy instrument to remove a small piece of tissue. If there are multiple suspicious areas, your doctor may take multiple biopsy samples.

Your doctor may apply a chemical solution to the biopsy area to limit bleeding.

 

After the colposcopy:

If your doctor didn't take a biopsy sample during your colposcopy, you won't have any restrictions on your activity once your exam is complete. You may experience some spotting or very light bleeding from your vagina in the next day or two.

If you had a biopsy sample taken during your colposcopy, you may experience:

  • Vaginal or vulvar pain that lasts one or two days
  • Light bleeding from your vagina that lasts a few days
  • A dark discharge from your vagina

Use a pad to catch any blood or discharge. Avoid tampons, douching and vaginal intercourse for a week after your biopsy, or for as long as your doctor instructs you to.

 

Results:

Before you leave your colposcopy appointment, ask your doctor when you can expect the results. Also ask for a phone number you may call in the event you don't hear back from your doctor within a specified time.

The results of your colposcopy will determine whether you'll need any further testing and treatment.

For more information, please arrange an appointment with Queen’s Clinic by phoning us on 020 7935 5540 or by booking online via our online booking form